Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Christmas Stocking Test: If it's big enough for you, it's big enough for Santa to fill. Posted by Hello

Monday Mutt Shot (with Cute Kid Bonus) Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Note to the New Teacher

Posted by Hello
Your assignment requiring an 11-year-old to build a scale model of her home (interior and exterior) with removable roof has been completed.

I'm sure you understand that the four pages of detailed instruction, and use of a hot glue gun and an X-Acto knife required a great deal of parental participation.

I trust you enjoyed your holiday weekend and can only hope that your kids have at least one teacher just like you.

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

 Posted by Hello

Career Day

"So, all the lawyer does is sit on his behind, huh?"

Some days, sure, but there are almost as many days when he is in court. Think about how it would feel if you were called to the principal's office.

"Are a lawyer and an attorney the same thing?"

Yes. One just sounds more important than the other.

"Do you think a lawyer would help me if I got suspended?"

That's a situation your parents would be better able to handle.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Gift of Respect

The kid came back inside after only a few minutes of play with a neighborhood friend yesterday.

When I questioned her sudden return, she told me her friend left with a 13-year-old boy who was visiting another neighbor, on a a four-wheeler, in the woods across from our house, through the Santee River Swamp.

I raised an eyebrow, to which she remarked, "I know, Mama."

I said nothing more, swallowing the lecture erupting from within.

Three hours passed, and the kid and I were about to embark on a search and rescue mission when her friend returned.

I completely forgot the planned lecture today when I saw the kid helping her dance instructor with "the little kids".

In my little girl I saw patience and understanding as she tied the laces of tap shoes, demonstrated shuffles, and gently persuaded the wandering minds of three and four-year-olds to direct their attention to their instructor.

In my little girl I saw maturity that deserved acknowledgement, and so, as we drove home, I told her I was proud of her; that I knew she wanted to go on that four-wheeler journey, and how hard it must have been to decline the invitation.

And when she said, "I didn't because of you", she gave me the very best gift any parent ever receives...the gift of respect.

Monday Mutt Shot Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Jury Summons

Nestled amongst the daily deluge of bills and junk mail this week was a jury summons.

These little invitations seem to arrive in my mailbox biennially, and though I've never attempted to thwart this civic duty in the past, I feel I must this year.

The vast majority of my time, money, and empathy have been and will continue to be spent on the kid's health and well-being.

I can only hope for an understanding judge who will relieve me of duty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Added to the Christmas Card Mailing List

Many families who should never be forgotten.

From the Suggestion Box

Not too many helpful hints, but thanks anyway!

1. I have no idea;

2. Pray for sanity;

and, from the kid,

3. Just bring junk for us to take home and food for us to eat.

I think the kid may be on to something.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Who? Me?

Yours truly has been invited to speak at the kid's school on Career Day...corrupting kids...something to look forward to :o

Monday Mutt Shots Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 13, 2004

With the Rain Comes the Rainbow

...Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall... Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day

I was retrieving the kid from school this afternoon when I encountered a young man in uniform.

I wished him a Happy Veterans Day and thanked him.

His shoulders squared, his chin rose, and he said, "I just got back two days ago."

I interrupted with a "Welcome Home!".

He stood even taller, said, "Thank you. It means a lot, 'mam," and told me his story of duty, deployment, and returning to a home that wasn't the same, and I was reminded that simple thanks indeed mean a lot more than we imagine.

Thank a veteran today...and every other day of the year.

Monday, November 08, 2004



Our own Sgt. Hodge and the 133rd MPC prove to a child that anything is possible.

May Kionndhay never give up on his dream!

Florence Guard unit helps child become soldier for a day
Morning News

FLORENCE -- When a bright-eyed Kionndhay Hawkins of Lamar told his teacher that he was going to realize his dream of joining the Army last week, she innocently dismissed it as perhaps the by-product of an overzealous imagination.

For her and everyone else, seeing was believing as the 8-year-old’s declaration came to fruition Sunday.

Beset by mental disorders threatening to mar his future, Hawkins stepped lively in his military duds with and courtesy of adoptive Florence-based Army National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company unit. Subtly peripatetic and outwardly giddy with excitement, the pint-sized soldier for a day easily shot past Cloud 9 way before then.

“He has always wanted to be a soldier, ever since he was little,” said mother Temika Hawkins, looking on as the oldest of her four children was being accoutered by his adoptive military elders at the National Guard Armory on South Greer Road.

And there he was, looking every bit the part in custom-made fatigues complete with dangling gold-plated medal, private’s cap and tiny, shiny combat boots.

Observers have labeled the youngster - diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, and Developmental Delay - somewhat of a longshot to qualify as a U.S. serviceman.
Luckily enough, the boy’s youth appears to have him from such notions, allowing for the nurturing of a preoccupation that relatives attribute to the Hawkins pedigree.

He has grown up idolizing and emulating veterans maternal grandfather Earl and great uncle James, the latter a member of the 133rd and whom he sees dressed in uniform on drill weekends like this.

Kionndhay has even expressed interest in Iraq and Kuwait, a symptom of listening to his great uncle recount war stories and other exploits there.

“The boy asks a lot of questions about the military ... that’s kind of unusual for a child that age,” said Earl, whose own military career entails stints in the National Guard and tours of duty in Vietnam and Cambodia as a U.S. Marine.

The tireless honorary soldier squeezed a lot of activity into this “his” day, including eating lunch in the mess hall with other MPs, going for a ride around the block in a MP Humvee and barking, although puppylike, out movement orders to fellow soldiers.

For Thomas Blakemore, staff sergeant of the 133rd, watching the youngster frolic around in his desired element was personally enlightening.

“It’s something that we take for granted everyday,” Blakemore explained. “Then, you see a little kid light up like this and it just brings our jobs and why we’re here back into perspective.”
The idea was conceived by Temika Hawkins a couple months ago as a labor of love for Kionndhay, a patient of McCleod Hospital neuro-developmental pediatricians, and carried out by officials at McCleod Children’s Hospital, the McCleod Foundation and the 133rd.

“Everybody’s telling me that with him being the way he is, he may not be able to go into the Army,” Temika recalled, “so I called (McCleod) and asked them, ‘My son’s situation is like this ... can you help me?’”

That cold call was ultimately forwarded to Claudette Jones from the children’s hospital, who through research and initiative, made the right contacts and got the ball rolling.

“The thing about it is, I had not met the family until today,” Jones said. “Yet, I feel like I’ve known her and Kionndhay just from the phone conversations we’ve had while putting this thing together for him.”

Characterized as a lovable cut-up, special education teacher Melanie Carpenter really had no idea what Kionndhay meant when he announced that he was going to the Army a week ago.

“I just waved him off saying, ‘No you’re not.’ He said, ‘Really, I am,’” Carpenter said of the boy, who’s got a “great sense of humor and just an awesome personality - there’s nobody like him.”

Generally, an ADHD child is unable to concentrate, constantly moves around and has poor school performance compared with intelligence.

Their behavior at home and school is disruptive, according to

According to a University of Michigan Health System report, a Developmental Delay child does not reach his or her developmental milestones at the expected times. It is an ongoing, major delay in the process of development, i.e. motor, language, social or thinking skills.

As for Kionndhay’s cognitive conditions curtailing his goal to enlist in the armed forces being a dream deferred, Earl Hawkins warns not to count him out.

“They say he can’t because of his disabilities, but I’ll never say he can’t,” Earl said. “All that’s in God’s hands ... especially with a kid like that, with all of that desire inside of him.”

Sgt. Hodge & the 133rd MPC Posted by Hello

The Death of a Child

The death of a child, the very essence of hope, must be the most profound loss anyone can suffer.

Friends are enduring the tragic death of their son and brother.

I endured the duty of being a messenger to many today, including the kid, and comforting words flowed, but I could find no words for my friends and their daughter. The despair in their countenances exceeded my imagination. I could only offer my thoughts, prayers, resolve to remain a constant friend, and love.

May the tears of pain and suffering become tears of fond memories in time.

I'll send you for a little time
A child of mine, He said,
For you to love the while he lives
And mourn for when he's dead.
It may be forty or fifty years,
Or even two or three
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him, for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories
As solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.
I've looked this wide world over
In my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes
I have selected you.
Now, will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take him back again."
I fancied that I heard him say,
'Dear Lord thy will be done.'
For all the joy thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may
And for the happiness we've known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand."
Author Unknown

Saturday, November 06, 2004

At Last! A "Do It Yourself" Done!!!

I struggle greatly with even the most minor of home improvements, repairs, or even upkeep.

I've made valiant efforts at accomplishing several do-it-yourself tasks in the past including assembly of a treadmill, relocating cable vision wires, destruction of a tin storage building, removal of debris in the form of fallen tree limbs from an ice storm with an ax; the list goes on and on...and each attempted task has its own sad tale.

Today, however, I have reached a milestone!

I have accomplished the goal of replacing drawer slides in the kitchen, without assistance and without injury!

I am "HandyMom" and now my kitchen drawers can be opened without falling onto the floor!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Yet Another District Debacle


The Latest:

Individual student PACT scores ( have not yet been provided to parents.

I was told yesterday by an employee of the school that the State had not authorized the release of the scores, but that we should receive them in "a couple of weeks".

The South Carolina Department of Education Office of Assessment forwarded PACT scores to the district on August 23, 2004. They were to have been sent home with students beginning September 8, 2004.


The South Carolina Department of Education (
is now aware of a certain form letter regarding AYP and choice of school mailed to parents on August 10, 2004, and that parents in School District 2 have not been provided with their children's PACT scores.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Speaking of Santa...

That kid of mine has asked for one thing, and only one thing for Christmas this year.

It's a GREAT BIG thing, and she doesn't expect it, but I've managed to make sure the kid, who has endured far more than any kid should lately, will get her wish...y'all ain't gettin' nothin', though...I've redeemed all of the wishes of all of the good girls and boys I know with Santa in order to make this gift possible!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

There is a Santa Claus

...there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished...

(Francis P. Church, New York Sun, 1897)

A Midlands soldier and his family are trying to bring peace to Iraq; one child at a time. Specialist Jeff Salka is helping to put things back in order overseas. But according to his wife, it hasn't been easy.

Lorie Salka has listened to her husband's stories. "Several months after he left he told us about children running beside their convoy's pointing to their mouths for food and water. They were starving," said Salka.

When Lorie heard about soldiers giving all their supplies to the children, she enlisted the help of her dad, Albert, and they started a project. At first they sent snacks. Then toys and stuffed animals got added to the list of items that were shipped. The two use their free time scouring flea markets for items to send. They don’t accept donations; they pay a little something for everything, but Albert admits they get good prices. "I just don't want to impose on people I pay my way," said Albert. So far, he says there has been plenty to go around, "It seems like the more I send, the more money I have."

Their gift boxes have enabled Specialist Salka to deliver more than 1,200 hundred stuffed animals and even more snacks to the children living in tents. All the soldiers designate their rest and relaxation time to do this. Lorie says her husband loves this part of his job, "It's very important to them. They feel a need to do this.” Lorie and her father also feel that need, "It's an awful war. I will be glad when it's over in the meantime I want to make a difference for children."